Re: RARA-AVIS: "...medical and legal support for the traditional libel against c

From: Dave Zeltserman (
Date: 28 Jan 2008

Mr T, I'm shocked, shocked to find swearing going on in here!

I agree completely with the examples you cited. The point of my earlier posting is that there have been many crime novels published that don't fit the conventional formulas (which is why I listed examples from Time Magazine's list of greatest novels)--Hammett, Thompson, Cain, Chandler, Goodis, Willeford, Macdonald, Marlowe, James Sallis, Ken Bruen, Vicki Hendricks, etc. all wrote or are writing books that transcend genre even though their books are classified as crime fiction. BUT--go into any bookstore today and you'll find plenty of examples of formulaic, conventional mysteries and thrillers that are pure genre. I'll go further--more and more today the larger NY houses are unwilling to publish "crime novels" that aren't formulaic and conventional, while these same restraints aren't put on "literary" fiction. There's a reason why the readers on this group tend to gravitate towards presses like Hard Case Crime, Serpent's Tail, No Exit Press, Bitter Lemmon, Bleak House, etc.-- because these are the houses that are more willing to publish these crime novels that color outside the lines (and thank god for these houses--both as a reader and as a writer!!!).

--Dave Z.

> The idea that there is a "formula" for crime fiction comes from a
> false identification of crime fiction with classic PI fiction. The
> bottle in the drawer, the shabby office, the outsider who wants to
> find the truth no matter what, etc. But if you look at crime
> it can encompass practically any situation, any environment (rural,
> city, the mythological West, any country, any point of view, as
wide a
> range of characters as any other type of fiction).
> If you make a list of a dozen of the greatest crime novels and try
> find a common formula, you won't find it. What does Red Harvest have
> to do with The Day of the Locust, formulawise? Nothing. What does
> Leonard's Freaky Deaky have to do with a Parker novel by Richard
> or with a Jim Sallis novel? Nothing.
> I regard this distinction between genre fiction and literary fiction
> as 99% bullshit, no, 100% bullshit.
> Best,
> mrt

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